Counseling at UCLA: Interview with Dr. Daniel Zamir

Dr. Daniel Zamir discusses the treatment model offered at the Counseling Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also describes various therapy groups available at UCLA and the importance of students feeling that “You are not the only one.”


The following transcript contains part of an exclusive interview with the Editor of PsychAlive and Dr. Daniel Zamir.

Dr. Daniel Zamir: We work within a brief treatment model in the Counseling Center.  And that’s just because we have 40,000 students on campus and we have a pretty large Counseling Center but it just wouldn’t be possible to offer unlimited treatment to everybody and we do want to be able to offer treatment to everybody who wants it in a reasonable manner.  So we generally have a limit of about 10 individual therapy sessions per year. I mean, on top of that, there are groups that people can go to.  And if people need kind of more long term therapy, which some people certainly do, then we have referrals that we can kind of help them get the treatment that they need. But we’re a bit limited, so we sometimes have to be a bit direct, or to pick out some kind of heart of a problem that we can deal with in a shorter time frame.


Various Groups Available at UCLA

The following transcript contains part of an exclusive interview with the Editor of PsychAlive and Dr. Daniel Zamir.

Dr. Daniel Zamir: We have so many groups at UCLA, not even just for anxiety but we have a group for OCD and a group for social anxiety and we’ve got groups for depression and bipolar and eating disorders and, you know, gay and bisexual men to have a place where they can talk and support each other and discuss the difficulties and, I think, you’re right:  It just speaks this shared experience of, “There’s other people who are dealing with similar issues that I am and who, you know, are making it through and maybe have some advice to offer me.”

But really, more than the advice piece, it’s really about this shared experiencing connection of, “I’m not the only person on campus who’s depressed or who suffers from OCD,” or whatever the issue is.  That this is something that a lot of people deal with and, but there’s things that can help. I think that’s a really powerful thing for people to know once they come to a group.


The following transcript contains part of an exclusive interview with the Editor of PsychAlive and Dr. Daniel Zamir.

Dr. Daniel Zamir: I’ve had people, who literally, when I tell them, you know, we have this group for OCD and people are shocked that there’s other people, that there’s enough to actually make a group, you know, like I’m not the only person dealing with this because that’s how people experience it.  Like they don’t have these ideas – it’s not even the diagnoses are important but it’s describing this experience that they’ve been feeling and that they’ve been alone in.

And I have people come in and literally say, “I’m coming in because I want to know if I’m crazy.  And can you tell me, am I crazy, do I sound crazy?  Is this stuff I’m talking to you about crazy?”  And I’ll tell people, “That’s not how I think about things, first of all.  I’m not labeling people into crazy and not crazy.”  But that it’s really about difficulties with emotion, with relationships and that that’s a really common experience, that people in general, I think, have a lot of difficulty managing their emotions, being in relationships and being vulnerable and managing what comes up as well as managing kind of their voices and the things they tell themselves that lead them to lead less complete or full lives.  I think that’s a universal experience.  And sometimes sharing that with people, it really helps, this idea of like, “I’m either right or wrong.  I’m either crazy or I’m not.”  [When in fact…] there are a lot of things we share.

There’s a lot of people who deal with these issues, even the more severe ones.  We had to open up, like, second groups for a lot of these things, like depression.  We have more than one depression group running every quarter because there are so many people who deal with depression.  And with things like anxiety, we’re having to get more specific groups, right, because there’s … first we had the breaking free of anxiety group.  And so, anybody who has anxiety, but that’s a tremendous — there’s a lot of variability in terms of how people experience anxiety.

And so we’ve started developing more specific groups because there’s just a demand and so if we can have a bunch of people with even a more similar experience and more able to relate to each other with something like OCD, that that really helps people.  Because even in the anxiety groups sometimes people can be like, “Wow, they have that, but they don’t know really how bad mine is,” or, “These things I have are really awful and make me a bad person.”  And so seeing other people – because people almost always are so much more compassionate with other people than they are with themselves.

And so I think that’s another piece about this being in the group, is that somebody might have this idea of, “I deal with these issues and that makes me bad.  And it means that I’m crazy.”  And then when they see somebody else with the same issues, they would never dream of labeling somebody else in that way of saying, “That person’s crazy or that person’s bad because they deal with this.” And so they feel compassion for the person, they want the best for them, they are supportive of them and then there’s this awareness, “Oh, that has to apply to me, too.  You know, if this person can be depressed and still be a really nice person who I want to support, can I offer that same thing to myself?”  And so it’s kind of eye opening for people of just how hard they are on themselves and helps them to step into this place of being more compassionate toward themselves.

Introducing Dr. Daniel Zamir

The following transcript contains part of an exclusive interview with the Editor of PsychAlive and Dr. Daniel Zamir.

Dr. Daniel Zamir: My name is Danny Zamir and I am finishing my last year of my doctoral program in clinical psychology and I’m currently in the last couple months of completing my pre-doctoral internship at UCLA in the Counseling and Psychological Service Center.  And in my work there, I’m doing individual therapy with students.  I’m leading groups on a variety of topics related to mental health.  And doing outreach and workshops.  That’s what I do.

I love the work.  And I’m really glad that this is what I do.  Because I have the experience, you know, of listening to people talk about their issues.   It is very sad sometimes.  Especially, the self-hating piece and the self-destructive piece makes me really sad just to see people who I have that compassion for, and who I really feel for, and have a lot of respect for, being so hurtful to themselves.  That’s really difficult sometimes.  It makes me sad.  I can relate to it.  And it’s so rewarding when I see somebody make a change in that, and have more compassion for themselves, or a better understanding of themselves that really impacts their life, makes it worthwhile to be able to tolerate that sadness.

About the Author

Daniel Zamir, Psy.D Danny Zamir, Psy.D. is the president of the Anxiety and Panic Disorders Clinic of Santa Barbara. He obtained his psychology license in California in 2013 after completing training at UCLA and UCSD in CBT, behavioral health, and mindfulness-based approaches to mental health. Dr. Zamir specializes in working with individuals who are dealing with symptoms of anxiety, panic, PTSD, OCD, phobias, and social anxiety. His approach to therapy integrates several empirically supported treatment models to help people to meet their goals and improve their lives. If you'd like to know more, please visit

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